World War Brange: baiting Angelina
Melissa Etheridge has been sh-t-talking Angelina Jolie for years. She was friends with Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston when they were together. And when Brad and Jennifer divorced and he ended up with Angelina, Melissa was down with the MiniVan Majority’s condemnation of the alleged infidelity. Interestingly enough, she was also accused of blindsiding and infidelity during her acrimonious split from Tammy Lynn Michaels.
On Monday Melissa was interviewed by Andy Cohen for his Sirius radio show. With Andy’s prompting (I LOVE that he gets dirty) Melissa talked more sh-t about Angelina, defending Brad’s character, accusing Angelina of homewrecking etc while still expressing admiration for her old friend Brad, from whom she hasn’t heard for 10 years because Angelina came between him and his entire circle which… I mean… if she believes that cheating happened, there might be a problem with blaming just one of the cheaters.
Anyway, after Melissa’s comments went everywhere, Andy invited her onto Watch What Happens Live; Kelly Clarkson was the other guest. In this moment, we are ALL Kelly Clarkson. Watch how excited Kelly is about this story. How she can’t f-cking wait to hear it. How she seems to come alive when the subject of Melissa vs Angelina Jolie comes up.
If you didn’t have time to watch that whole video, basically Melissa claims that she was contacted by Angelina Jolie’s “fixers” after her radio interview with Andy and that she was issued a “subtle warning”. Melissa also insists that her words were twisted around. They were not twisted around. She was trying to light a fire. Trying to. It would have been a one day story – and I thought it was a one day story, because when’s the last time you cared about Melissa Etheridge – except, well, Team Angelina took the bait. And instead of letting a pathetic little pile of smoke burn out on its own, someone on her team decided to fan the flames, giving Melissa an extension, a chance to follow up.
This is a PR mistake – a particularly baffling one from someone who’s better at media strategy than anyone else. When a more famous person engages a less famous person, it’s always the less famous person who benefits. Always. Angelina knows this. It’s how she’s handled Chelsea Handler. She’s never bothered with Chelsea Handler. We would have heard about it if she had because Chelsea Handler would have broadcasted it immediately. So …what’s with the amateur hour happening here? And did the amateur who acted on Angelina’s behalf clear this through Angelina?
What’s especially interesting in how World War Brange has played out is how Brad Pitt himself has taken advantage of Angelina’s (previously) outstanding media spin on his behalf. The people who have a hard time believing that Brad would have behaved badly with his children have been convinced of Brad’s solid parenting skills from Angelina herself. Remember, he let go of his PR team a couple of years after they got together. Angelina was the one who managed their image. She was the one who made sure they were papped on that beach in Africa. For a decade, she was the one who curated their visual history – happy family outings, doting double parents with smiling children – and she’s also been the one who has lovingly spoken of Brad’s role as a father. The picture of Brad, the most wonderful dad? She did that for him. She made that reputation. It was her work. That’s how good she is at the media message. So good that now that the two of them are no longer together, the brand she built for him continues to stand – only he’s the one who gets credit for it.
Attached - Melissa at The Late Show and Sirius XM studios earlier this week in New York.
Cindy Ord/ Ray Tamarra/ Getty Images